The True Weapon Against Death, Part 2

  • Brian Overholtzer
Sword with gold pommel

The following blog is an adaptation by Brian Overholtzer of a sermon preached by Pastor Jeff Crotts, “Christ the Founder of our Faith: Part III” (Hebrews 2:14–18) November 25th, 2018.

 Action movies are intense. Some of the most thrilling movies are about “the virus gone wrong” that turns half the planet into zombies or movies that surround an elaborate plan to heist casinos, and let’s not forget the good old classic of Mel Gibson screaming “Freedom!” These types of movies and shows do a decent job of keeping people entertained. In the last couple of years, there has been less of a need to watch movies to get that “sit on the edge of your seat” fix. From Covid to the Delta Variant to who knows what brand name will come next, talk of an impending health crisis penetrates every corner of our lives. If that wasn’t enough, there is talk of inflation and other financial disasters, and yeah and our freedoms are going bye-bye. Health, wealth, and freedom are important to us and when pressure is put on any of those areas, we panic.

This reaction is not incidental, there is a master schemer behind it all: Satan. The Devil empowers people to fight against this enslavement in at least three ways. One, they fight for their health in an attempt to avoid death at all costs; they fight to keep their wealth in an attempt to mask the reality of death, and they cling to every conceived freedom at all costs because they don’t believe there is accountability after death. Humanity’s weapons against death are health, wealth, and freedom. Hebrews 2:14–18 points us to the true weapon against death.

 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives (Heb. 2:14–15).

Jesus is the True Weapon Against Death

What is your greatest fear? Public speaking? Spiders? Being enclosed in a confined space? This verse makes the case that man’s greatest fear is death! Job called death “the king of terrors” (Job 18:14). It’s far too simplistic to say that this is the fear of physical death. Satan enslaves people by lying about death. He lied to Eve saying, “you will not surely die” (Gen 3:4). Satan deceives people into thinking that they can have it all without any consequences or repercussions. The temptation to sin now, to capitulate, or sell out in this life, comes from believing life ends in death. The natural response to this reality is to fight death. People fight against death by fighting for their health at all costs (avoid the reality of death), fight for their wealth at all costs (there is no afterlife mentality), fight for their freedom at all costs (there is no master after this life so I am the master of my own life).  The fear of these realities drives humanity to fear death and to enslave themselves to things that cannot bring life. The only true weapon against being enslaved to death is Jesus. Hebrews 2:17–18 illuminates how Jesus gives true help to the descendant of Abraham (v. 16) killed death by dying on a cross.

 “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Jesus has met your greatest need: the forgiveness of the sins you committed against a holy and wrathful God (Romans 1:18–32). Hebrews 2:17 explains the process of the salvation that Christ achieved for us on the cross. Christ took on full and true humanity. So, when Christ died on the cross, it was not only His divine nature showering love on us, but we also received a downpour of His love for us. Our salvation was not based on theological logic but theological love from someone who is truly God and truly man, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Jesus came and took on full humanity for a purpose. He came to “become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. The key ideas in this verse are “propitiation” and High Priest.” On the cross, Christ died to appease “propitiate” God’s eternal holy wrath toward us because of our sin. This wrath is holy, personal, damning, and fearful. God sets His holy wrath face to face against sinners because He is holy and righteous. The phrase in verse seventeen translated “in the service of God,” literally reads in the Greek “toward God.” Christ ministers on our behalf before God face to face. God, because of His great love toward us, sent His Son to appease His wrath and bring us to Himself in an intimate and personal relationship. This is Christ’s current ministry; He advocates for you. Christ’s empathy while dying for you means He has empathy now while He lives for you! This means that as the human priest He can stand in the gap between you and God the Father. Christ reaches one arm down to you and one arm up toward Heaven while being face to face with God the Father. Christ lavishes these benefits on us to sufficiently meet our needs in everyday life. Hebrews 2:18 reminds us that Christ’s current ministry for us is entirely sufficient.

 “…because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

 With the same reasoning that we cannot serve both God and money, we cannot put our hope in health, wealth, and freedom to meet our everyday needs. Against the thinking of the world, truly, “to live is Christ and die is gain.” You are truly free to live only when you truly know your life’s not over when you die!